Frequently Asked Questions About Colorado Family Law

Denver family law office providing answers

If you are thinking about divorce, considering adoption or dealing with domestic violence issues, this may be a difficult time for you. Information can make your decisions easier. This page is a good place to begin seeking answers to some of your questions, including:

  • In a divorce, how will our property be divided?
  • What is a no-fault divorce?
  • I am the custodial parent. Can I deny visitation?
  • What is the procedure for adoption?
  • What is a domestic violence offense?
  • Will a domestic violence arrest or conviction be on my record?
  • What happens to a child who is deemed a juvenile delinquent?

Contact a Denver family law attorney for a free initial phone consultation today

I enjoy meeting people from all walks of life and helping them through stressful situations like child custody and divorce. Call me at 303.777.3899 or contact Karin Johnson Chatfield LLC online. My office is conveniently located in downtown Denver. I am happy to schedule an evening or weekend appointment if needed.

In a divorce, how will our property be divided?

In Colorado, the court divides marital property and assets according to principles of equitable distribution. Instead of requiring a 50/50 split of marital property, equitable distribution is more flexible and takes into account the financial situation of each spouse. In this context, equitable means fair, not equal.

All marital property assets are potentially available for division under equitable distribution, including:

  • Real estate
  • Personal property
  • Stocks and mutual funds
  • Retirement accounts
  • Business interests
  • Intellectual property
  • Inheritance
  • Investments
  • Pension plans
  • Rental property
  • Savings

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What is a no-fault divorce?

No-fault divorce describes any divorce where the parties do not have to prove that one spouse did something wrong. All states allow divorces regardless of who is at fault. To get a divorce in a no-fault state, one party simply has to state a reason recognized by the state. In Colorado, a spouse has to show that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” or that there are irreconcilable differences between the spouses.

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I am the custodial parent. Can I deny visitation?

The purpose of visitation rights is for children of a divorced couple to understand they have two parents who are entitled to spend time with them. If the children come back from a weekend with their non-custodial parent and are upset or tell you they do not want to go anymore, that is not reason to deny visitation unless visitation endangers their health and welfare. If you are having a disagreement with your ex or harbor ill feelings, that is not reason to deny visitation. The noncustodial parent is entitled to what is known as reasonable visitation. That means if he or she wants to see your child in the middle of the night or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you do not have to permit visitation.

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What is the procedure for adoption?

In Colorado, the court’s primary concern is the best interests of the child. Whether a child is placed in a new home privately or through an adoption agency, a petition for adoption must be filed. The child is placed in the custody of the new parents for a period of six months to one year before the adoption becomes final. This allows home study monitoring the child’s welfare in the new home through agency visits authorized by a court. At the end of the period, a court hearing reviews the parents’ qualifications and, if they are deemed satisfactory, grants a permanent decree of adoption. Through this process, the child gains all the rights of a natural child of the adoptive parents and a new birth certificate is issued, showing the adoptive parents as the child’s legal parents.

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What is a domestic violence offense?

Colorado does not have a specific statute for domestic violence offenses. The actual offense is typically for assault or harassment. The majority of family violence cases are charged as misdemeanors in which it is alleged the defendant caused some kind of harm to the victim. In cases in which “serious bodily injury” is alleged, or a deadly weapon was used, the offense is classified as a felony.

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Will a domestic violence arrest or conviction be on my record?

A conviction, deferred sentence, probated sentence or any form of plea bargain results in a permanent criminal record. However, a case that has been deferred or placed in a diversion program can later be expunged under Colorado law.

A plea of guilty (a plea bargain is a guilty plea) or a plea of no contest to the charge or a finding of guilt results in a criminal record even if the defendant is placed on probation or deferred adjudication and successfully completes the community supervision period.

Domestic violence arrest records may be removed in certain situations, but there is no method by law to expunge domestic violence convictions. In extremely rare cases it is possible to get a pardon from the state’s governor that will remove the conviction from the individual’s record after the sentence is completed.

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What happens to a child who is deemed a juvenile delinquent?

A juvenile delinquent is anyone 10 through 17 years of age who commits a federal or state crime, violates certain county or municipal ordinances or disregards or refuses to comply with court orders. The juvenile court judge or magistrate considers many factors in sentencing a juvenile delinquent, including:

  • The severity of the offense
  • The juvenile’s physical, emotional or educational needs
  • The family or community resources available
  • The juvenile’s prior record
  • The impact the offense has on the victim and the community in which the juvenile lives

After a full review of the circumstances, the judge may decide on one of several legal consequences, including:

  • Payment of a fine up to $300 plus a 37 percent surcharge
  • Up to 45 days in detention
  • Performance of community service as set by the court
  • Requirement to refrain from associating with certain friends or being involved with gangs or others who are on probation or charged with criminal conduct
  • Repayment to the victims within a period of time set by the court
  • Adherence to a curfew set by the court
  • Loss of driving privileges until more responsibility is shown

For more information, visit the website of the Colorado State Judicial branch.

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